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Commonwealth Club ads

2003-06-07 16:16:12.913255+00 by Dan Lyke 16 comments

If there were any time I actually listened to radio anymore, I'd probably be interested in The Commonwealth Club. They bill themselves as "the nation's oldest and largest public affairs forum," the programs I heard gave me a certain respect.

Recently, they've been running these ads on Muni vehicles and in BART stations of the form "I wanted to ask [person] if [amazingly trite question related to person's expertise]. So I did", with the tag: "Meet interesting people. Become one."

One of these was "I wanted to ask Larry Harvey if success was killing his original idea for Burning Man. So I did."

I won't go into all the reasons this grates on me, we'll just leave it at "...so rather than going out to the desert and expanding my horizons and building some awesome artistic creation and running into Larry, I sat on my pampered ass in an air-conditioned auditorium and now make brief appearances at the Odeon so that I'll look hip and 'with it', even though I can't stand any of the acts there until they get imitated by someone mainstream."

Over at SF Weekly, John Mecklin is less charitable.

Of course none of this matters, because we live in a blissfully broadcast media free house, and I only listen to the radio on those days that I don't take the bus to the ferry and I'm riding alone.

[ related topics: Burning Man Bay Area Consumerism and advertising Art & Culture ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2003-06-07 23:49:07.365304+00 by: markd

One of the happiest days was when we decided to ditch the cable and only use the TV for pre-recorded content. Evenings of couch-potatage turned into actually Doing Interesting Stuff, plus life became a lot more pleasant without all that advertising blaring at us.

#Comment made: 2003-06-08 00:23:21.968644+00 by: Shawn

Interesting. I've been thinking lately that my sans-TV life has become much more hectic and stressful. I was doing interesting stuff when I was into and followed my shows. Now I just drudge all day (and a good portion of the night).

Before anybody jumps on me, it's true the drudgery is not the direct result of watching less no TV. But I have observed that I was happier - and, yes, I feel I was also more productive - then.

#Comment made: 2003-06-08 02:52:52.646755+00 by: Dan Lyke

Our not watching TV wasn't a conscious choice, we just moved it into another room for a party, decided we liked not having it in the main area, and discovered that it had lousy reception in the new room and never bothered to debug it. A few things I miss, Bay Area Backroads, but mostly we just haven't noticed that it's gone.

#Comment made: 2003-06-08 14:22:15.85994+00 by: topspin

I enjoy NPR and WUTC's playlist exposes music I'd not hear otherwise. I pay for a gazillion cable channels, primarily so I can get Sundance and such.

It's a matter of moderation and choice, for me. I can't abide 30 seconds of Top 40 radio and most TV.... so it's easy to avoid camping on the couch. Perhaps I'm not as "fringy" as the average Flutterbian, but I feel radio and TV are resources, like the net, which could be enormous time sinks or reasonable life enhancements.

Most of the net sucks too, but we don't stop using it. We pick and choose. Why should radio or TV be different?

#Comment made: 2003-06-09 13:18:26.466771+00 by: meuon

Since I 'unplugged' (OK, at work we do have a dish, but it's usually only on CNN, or Braves games, and even then it's rarely on) at home (I watch DVD's only at home, and rarely that..). Life sucks: This weekend alone was terrible, Friday night was tent camped next to the Cedar Creek near Florence Alabama in the rain, while 9 of us were forced to huddle in a tent while it rained taking turns reading from a book by LED headlight (we forgot to bring a TV and genset for Seinfield..). We could net get any reception for Jerry Springer re-runs, so Saturday found us canoeing instead, and out of sheer non-mass media induced boredumb, tubed over one waterfall over and over again. Because we didn't have any TV trays (or a TV for that matter), we had dinner at a nice Italian restaurant, walked to see the lion at U of N. 'Bama and then, this TIVO impaired group of people suffered through a choreographed 'water show' with water jets (100ft tall) lit by colored lights and set to music. Why? Well, without a big screen to watch Gilligan's Island re-runs on, what else were we to do? Saturday night found us drinking white russians and beer by a bonfire in order to hide our shame that we were.. without TV.

Sunday was worse.. without the ability to watch early morning Tele-Evangelists, Ann and I took a winding country drive to Charlie's farm, met some other cavers in a cave (we were trying to hide deep underground to keep the TV signals from interfering with our brainwaves), and then hiked through the trails and hills just to rapppel down a waterfall into a pit. Alas, we forgot to bring the portable TV, or even a radio in our packs so out of frustration with ourselves, had to move rocks around to uncover a 30ft drop that may end up being a path behind the waterfall. After climbing back up.. we unstuck the truck from the mud, and shared a meal at the Kimball TN All You Can Eat Chinese Buffet. We had tried hard to find a 'sports bar' with 27 TV's blaring at us, instead we worked through the silence with our new friends by sharing stories of caves and adventures. No-one asked if anyone knew what was happening on 'Friends', and for that matter, no one even cared. What kind of people are these?

At times, I yearn for evenings and weekends languishing while being hypnotized into isolated consumerism by advertising sponsored filler content. Salty carb filled munchies and sugar supercharged beverages inducing a stupor with just enough conciousness to watch TV, yet not enough strength to tone down the max volume commercials via the soft mushy buttons on the remote control held loosely in my hand as if I actually had any free will and control over the dreck that was being pumped into my cranium.

#Comment made: 2003-06-09 14:42:45.731034+00 by: Dan Lyke

Meuon, if you'll promise to run it once or twice a month, you can borrow my genny for trips like this. It's perfectly sized to run a camp entertainment system. I only use it at Burning Man[Wiki], so as long as you brought it out for that I wouldn't miss it.

(Well, okay, except for those one or two big winter storms...)

#Comment made: 2003-06-09 15:19:54.548435+00 by: Pete

So, CNN is bad, but CNN.com is kosher. Got it.

#Comment made: 2003-06-09 16:00:21.423095+00 by: other_todd

Meuon, that was beautiful.

I am TV-free, for the most part. I won't say it was a deliberate or political decision; there's simply usually nothing on TV I want to watch. Once in a while I surf and I find something interesting but it is purely a time-killing activity.

I also can't say this has enriched my life tremendously; unlike the outdoorsmen here (whom I sometimes envy, but I've learned that camping is Not For Me through bitter experience), I tend to take that time and just spend it in front of the computer instead. But it's funny how time spent playing a computer game or chatting online (or reading Flutterby!) doesn't feel wasted to me, and yet time in front of the TV almost always does. Probably something to do with passivity.

#Comment made: 2003-06-09 16:27:46.472527+00 by: Dan Lyke

Pete, I get your point, but yes: CNN the television channel makes me sit through all of the crap that they want me to hear and not do my own filtering, CNN.com at least allows me to do some editing, even if what they're pitching overall should be viewed with a jaundiced eye.

Which probably ties in to other todd's observations.

#Comment made: 2003-06-09 20:00:54.950857+00 by: meuon

Dan, thanks for the sarcasm... and you know I have solar charged deep cycle batteries and inverters. In fact at Speleofest, we were rocking to the Afroman CD powered by a 500 watt Tripp-Lite driving my Portable Fender PA system... Rock that cave Amadeaus!

#Comment made: 2003-06-09 21:31:18.250219+00 by: John Anderson [edit history]

We were rocking to the Afroman CD

I was gonna kill my television... but then I got high.

#Comment made: 2003-06-09 23:26:03.785873+00 by: shmuel

CNN the television channel makes me sit through all of the crap that they want me to hear and not do my own filtering

Might I suggest that if you really believe watching TV is completely passive and doesn't involve any filtering, then the problem lies not with the television but with your viewing skills?

Not that I don't agree that, on most TV news shows, the signal-to-noise ratio is too low to make watching them worth the bother, but that's a separate issue. But critical engagement applies to television as much as it does to any other medium.

Me, I watch lots of television, and I'm not the least bit apologetic about it. I spent enough time without it when I was growing up, thanks.

#Comment made: 2003-06-10 13:33:10.925244+00 by: meuon

John Anderson.. Yep.. that's the CD..

#Comment made: 2003-06-12 05:04:51.596343+00 by: Shawn

Dan; It wasn't a concious choice for me either. It came about as a combination of factors. But I have definately noticed more stress and a feeling of less free time since I've stopped watching entirely.

Meuon; My point is that cutting out TV does not automatically lead to such blissful adventures. If I could do all those things I would, regardless of whether I was plugged or not.

As shmuel notes, TV is a tool - or a toy. It's only a problem if you allow it control over you.

#Comment made: 2003-06-12 13:49:49.221172+00 by: meuon

Shawn, the subliminal fix is gone.. the hypnosis is wearing off.. you have more to do.. and know it. - No TV does not lead to such adventures, but I've found that people that are out doing things, rarely watch TV.

#Comment made: 2003-06-13 01:05:01.82493+00 by: Shawn

Your point is well taken, meuon. But I honestly don't think I've had the submliminal fix for some time. Over the years I've drifted in and out of being a habitual TV watcher and it really doesn't rule my life - or even my downtime. Not since I recognized the disturbing difficulty in turning it off, and made a concious effort to counter that. Yes, TV content does have an addictive bent. But I contend that it is possible to counter that tendency without abandoning TV completely. I don't just say "I can quit any time", I demonstrate it regularly.

Which is why I really wish I had a Tivo. There are many things I'd like to watch - but on my schedule and my terms.